Friday, May 29, 2009


A lot of organizations still think that change is an exception to the normal situation. They think that the goal is to return to the status quo as soon as possible.


In the IT industry I was used to having two major reorganizations/changes per year and some smaller ones during the year as well. However when I moved to the airline industry they were used to one major change every three or four years. This means that they see change as the exception, even as something that you should minimize. The people in those organizations are thus stimulated not to change and to maintain their current work practices. There was an employee who told me quite frankly that he did the same type of work for almost ten years, even though he had experienced minimal three major changes. He just changed the name of his department, but kept doing exactly the same work. And this is one of the reasons why only one in three change programs succeeds.


This situation occurs quite frequently:

  1. Change is seen as an exception
  2. When change is implemented, there is no change in the behavior of the people.


In the current economic and financial crisis many people think in the same way. That we are now facing some serious challenges, but that ‘things’ will get better and we then will return back to ‘normal’ again. We just have to cut a lot of costs, lay off some people and be careful. And when the market changes we just continue as if nothing has happened.

But this is a major mistake!


The market is changing structurally. Globalization is now really working as it was envisioned many years ago. Technology is facilitating this and technology will continue to change the way work is done. On the management side, people are no longer accepting the greed of their leaders for financial incentives. People also want to be treated as human beings and not as spare parts in a machine. The entire financial system is also changing structurally. The environmental challenges are not temporary setbacks.


All of these challenges require an adequate response. In order to respond adequately you have to understand that:

  1. Change is the new normal
  2. Change implementation will only be successful when people change their behaviors.


This requires a new perspective (there will no longer be a status quo for a long period) and a new mindset (people are the only real differentiator of any organization).


Which leaders are prepared to step out of their comfort zone and instill this new culture of change and innovation??


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